AOIFE 1998 Annual Report

The Association of Institutions for Feminist Education and Research in Europe

AOIFE, founded in Limerick Ireland in December 1996, is a European association for international co-operation within Feminist Studies and Gender Research. Since its beginnings, the association has worked to build up its institutional membership base and infrastructure, make itself and its aims visible at the European and international level, develop research project proposals, and co-ordinate and participate in various activities relevant to European feminist education and research. AOIFEs main purpose is to provide the following:

AOIFE is a very young organisation, still in the early stages of building up its infrastructure and shaping its identity, policies, and activities. We hope that by reading the following report, our members and prospective members will gain a better sense of why AOIFE was established, what has been accomplished so far, where it is heading, how they can be involved as well as an appreciation of the fact that becoming a part of AOIFE is a long-term project and investment. Building up a European association and developing joint projects takes time and the rewards/results do not always come immediately. The Council and Secretariat feel that AOIFE has made considerable progress and achieved a great deal in a short time, and feel confident that the rewards will outweigh the costs of membershiptfor the individual contact person, the institutional member and in regards to advancements in European Feminists Studies and Education. This Annual Report aims to summarise AOIFEs most important tasks carried out and accomplishments made in 1998, provide an overview of its current financial status as well as the activities that were set into motion during 1998 and that will be continued in the subsequent year(s).

I. Activities/Projects

ATHENA

AOIFE's first and most significant activity underway is ATHENA (Advanced Thematic Network in Womens Studies in Europe). In April, the ATHENA application was submitted to EUs Socrates Programme for the second time (not accepted in 1997, but deemed good). In this years round, it was approved as an official Socrates network. The EU grant will cover travel costs and some material costs in connection with ATHENA working meetings (ca. 70,000 ECU for year 1 Sept. 98- Aug. 99). ATHENA must reapply for funding support each year of the 3-year project (September 1998- August 2001). Athenas two working groups-- one focusing on Womens Studies curriculum development and the other on applications and uses of information technology in Womens Studies-- held three working group meetings in 1998: January 16-17 in Granada, Spain; June 5-6 in Lund, Sweden; November 27-28 in Brussels, Belgium. Construction of an ATHENA website was started and five ATHENA working group electronic discussion lists were created in 1998. The lists have helped to facilitate easy communication and sharing of information on the project between ATHENA partners from all around Europe. The ATHENA Central Co-ordination is located at Utrecht University. There are at present 64 partners/universities involved in the project.

II. New Projects/funding applications

Transatlantic project

Preparations for applying for the European Union's Directorate General XXII's "Joint EU/US Consortia for Co-operation in Higher Education and Vocational and Educational Training" programme early in 2000 were initiated in 1998. In 1999, the leading European partner for the project (Utrecht University, Netherlands) will work to build up the European consortium, which will work closely with the US consortium being established (University of Michigan, USA). A joint application will be submitted in March 2000. The project will focus on setting up Transatlantic Women's Studies exchange programmes and developing curriculum materials which will be addressing the interconnections of race, gender, ethnicity and national location.

Women and Science

AOIFE decided to prepare an application in 1999 under the EUs Fifth Framework Programme for Research (1999-2002) related to themes of Women and Science/ Feminist Epistemology. A task force, led by AOIFE Council member Nina Lykke, was formed to design the project and work on the application.

III. Networking

Fifth Framework Programme

In 1998, AOIFE was active in lobbying for the inclusion of gender themes in the EUs Directorate General XIIs Fifth Framework Programme for Research (1999-2002). Petition writing, press releases, appealing to national research ministers and submitting text proposal for the Framework final programme are examples of ways in which AOIFE, along with other central players in the field of Womens Studies/Gender Research/Equality work, has tried to get the Commission to acknowledge the importance of gender topics in European research and incorporate this into the Fifth Framework programme itself. Though the final programme is not yet released, it seems that gender will have higher priority in the coming framework programme than it did in the previous one. Related to these efforts to influence the Fifth Framework Programme in 1998, AOIFE has developed concrete and closer links with Directorate General XII:

Though neither of them are solely representing AOIFE in their respective assignments with DGXII, they were chosen within the context of their roles in AOIFEs Council/on behalf of AOIFE. This connection is meaningful for AOIFEs visibility in, contributions to, and exposure to European Womens Studies/Gender Research policy and promotion.

Next Genderation Network

A new network of young students or professional women interested in feminist studies/issues and gender research was established in the context of the ATHENA meetings in June. The Network has created an electronic discussion list with 90 members from around Europe and will submit proposals to the EU and other organisations to support its activities (workshops on issues of interest to young feminists, seminars, research projects). The network was approved as a section of AOIFE in November.

AOIFE/ATHENA External Advisory Board

In November, the Council agreed that AOIFE would set up an External Advisory Board in 1999. Representatives from national ministries of research/education and other politicians and experts will be invited to sit on the board, whose function will be to advise AOIFE/ATHENA on policy matters, fund-raising, preparing research and funding applications, carry out existing projects and other types of general consultation. Links to other parts of the world AOIFEs Secretariat and Council have set up task forces and carried out an outreach campaign in attempts to establish stronger and new links with other associations/ organisations/ entities working with feminist education/research in other parts of the world. Sharing of information on conferences, projects and good practices and perhaps laying the groundwork for future global collaboration and projects are examples of possible outcomes of such links (See under VII. Council for specific regions/countries identified)

IV. Conferences/Seminars

[Which AOIFE participated in c1998]:

[Which AOIFE is preparing for- 1999 and 2000]:

Womens Worlds: 99

Participation in the 7th International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women in Tromsø, Norway, June 1999

Bologna 2000

AOIFE volunteered to be one of the key co-ordinators of the 4th European Feminist Research Conference scheduled for 2000 in Bologna Italy. A proposal was submitted to the Bologna Italy municipality, who will hopefully be the local hosts for the event. AOIFE will also submit applications for funding for the conference under the Fifth Framework Programme and at the national level. AOIFE developed a task force within its Council to prepare for this large event (tentatively scheduled for September 2000). The next AOIFE General Assembly will be held in conjunction with the Bologna conference.

V. Information

One of AOIFEs main priorities in 1998 was to developing its key informational media/materials and utilising them to assist in spreading information about the new association and its activities. This included:

VI. Membership

AOIFE is composed of institutional (not individual) members. The two types of membership available are institutional, granted to institutions of higher education, research, and documentation centres (annual membership fee 500 ECU); and associate membership , granted to local/national/ European associations, co-ordinating bodies, etc. (annual membership fee 250 ECU). In special cases, members have been granted exemption from paying annual membership fees. Institutions or associations wanting fee exemption must submit a written request to the Secretariat, explaining why they are incapable of making the payment and why they are interested in membershp. The Council evaluates each case separately and in 1998, they approved 6 exemptions, most of which have gone to institutions/associations in Eastern and Central Europe and the Baltic countries. AOIFE saw a slight decline in membership from 1997 to 1998 (from 70 to 66). It should be noted that exact numbers are difficult to determine at a given time. The numbers here reflect the number of members whose payments have been received in our bank account, plus the number of members approved for payment exemption. Therefore, the numerous Mpending cases are not factored in (delays, complications in transferring payments, etc.) We do feel that these numbers still offer a general idea of AOIFE´s membership base.

As of 31.12.98:

AOIFEs 66 members institutions represent over 20 different European countries:
Austria (1),Belgium (4), Denmark (7), Finland (3), France (2), Germany (2), Greece (1), Hungary (1), Ireland (2), Italy (11), Latvia (1), Lithuania (1), N. Ireland (1), Netherlands (4), Norway (3), Portugal (1), Spain (5), Sweden (5), Switzerland (4), United Kingdom (6), Yugoslavia (1) .
A challenge facing AOIFE in the coming year(s) will be to increase its number of members. In order to do this, it is crucial that potential and existing AOIFE members understand that the long-term benefits of being part of AOIFE will be worth their investment of time and money into the association.
Membership materials and information can be requested from the Secretariat or downloaded from the AOIFE website.

VII. AOIFE Council

The current Council was elected at the AOIFE General Assembly, on July 7, 1997 in Coimbra, Portugal. The AOIFE Council is composed of nine members and a replacement member. Council terms are three years and the next Council elections will be held at the next General Assembly in 2000.The Council was particularly active in 1998. Nearly all of the named activities and projects (under points I, II, and III) were proposed, initiated, and led by various members of the Council. The Council convened three meetings in 1998: One On-line/virtual meeting January 12 and two in-person meetings held on June 7 in Lund, Sweden and on November 29, in Brussels, Belgium.

Aside from these meetings, AOIFE Council and Secretariat make frequent use of e-mail, fax, and telephone in relaying information and taking decisions on various AOIFE matters from their respective countries.
In 1998, the Council decided to define individual Mportfolios or areas of key responsibility to each member(see below). Certain Council members have been assigned certain European and non-European regions of the world for which they are responsible for building links to and spreading information about AOIFEs activities and projects (described under IV. Networking, above). These portfolios and responsibilities are revised each year according to new tasks and areas of focus.

Council member

Presidentt: Graca Abranches, Coimbra University, Portugal.

Vice- President : Rosi Braidotti, Utrecht University, Netherlands.

Fride Eeg-Henriksen, NIKK, Norway.

Gabriele Griffin, Kingston University, U.K.

Nina Lykke, Odense University, Denmark.

Margarita Birriel Salcedo, University of Granada, Spain.

Harriet Silius, Åbo Academy University, Finland.

Anna Maria Tagliavini, Womens Documentation Centre, Italy.

Diana Mulinari, Lund University, Sweden

Replacement: Jalna Hanmer, Leeds Metropolitan University, U.K.

VIII. Administration and Finances

Secretariat

The AOIFE Secretariat was moved to the Nordic Institute for Womens Studies and Gender Research (NIKK) at the University of Oslo in Norway in April 1997 from Limerick University in Ireland. The Secretariat will remain at NIKK until the next AOIFE General Assembly in 2000, when the new location of the Secretariat will be voted on.
The Secretariat is responsible for performing co-ordination and administrative tasks related to AOIFEs activities, members, and contact networks throughout Europe and internationally. The Secretariat employs a consultant (Diana Anders) who allotted ca. 500 hours to AOIFE in 1998. Some specific tasks undertaken by the Secretariat in 1998: Co-ordination of Council meetings/Council decisions, Handling finances (budgets /accounts/membership dues) for the period 1997-2000; Building and maintaining membership databases and archives; Information/outreach and recruitment campaigns; Developing informational media and information (website, articles, newsletters); Representing AOIFE at important meetings and conferences; Membership correspondence.

Finances

1998 was AOIFEs first full year with an operating Secretariat. Therefore, expenditures for 1998 were higher than for 1997. The level of income remained roughly the same in 1998 as the previous year. AOIFE therefore experienced a negative income in 1998. This has not posed a problem until now, as the association has been able to dip into its reserve funds for the last two years. The enclosed Accounts 1998 make it clear that AOIFE ´s financial situation must be improved in 1999 if the association is to avoid depleting its reserve funds and running into debt, while still maintaining a reasonable level of activity to carry out its work.

AOIFEs biggest expenditures are wages for the Secretariat and travel costs (for the Council and Secretariat to central meetings). The primary sources of income are membership fees. The NIKK/Oslo University contributions, such as use of free office space and equipment and up to 100 consulting hours for the Secretariat do not influence the net result per se, but without them, AOIFE would accrue a much larger negative income. The Accounts 1998 reflect AOIFEs dependency on membership dues and the contributions from NIKK and Oslo University for its financial stability. As a means of bringing in more income and securing its financial future, AOIFE hopes to increase its number of paying members in 1999. In addition, cutbacks have been made on travel costs and Secretariat wages. AOIFE may have to look to additional means of bringing in income, such as finding alternative funding sources, increasing membership dues and/ or further reducing its travel budget.

IX. 1998 At a Glance

1998 marked a particularly active and significant year in AOIFEs (short) Mherstory. Some of the highlights and outcomes included/were: The ATHENA project -Advanced Thematic Network in Womens Studies in Europe- was officially launched, granted European funding, and carried out three sets of productive working group meetings; Several new AOIFE joint projects and activities were initiated; Though the number of members decreased slightly, members were represented in over 20 different countries; AOIFE published its own homepage as well as newsletters and other information materials that were disseminated on a broad scale; Through its outreach, recruitment and lobbying campaigns, AOIFE made itself a more visible and active player in European and international research and education community; A range of networks were implemented/collaborated with, such as Next Genderation Network and the AOIFE/ATHENA external advisory groups; New co-operative links were established in other parts of the world (in Asia, and in North and South America, for example); Closer ties to and collaboration with DG XII were achieved(especially the fact that a Council member chosen to the Fifth Frameworks External Advisory Group for the IHP); The association concretised its plans, activities, and goals in the upcoming years; The financial results signalled the need for some budgetary cutbacks, an increase in membership and a generally strengthened financial situation in 1999.

As this report illustrates, a stable foundation has been laid for AOIFEs continued work and further progress in promoting and carrying out feminist education and research in Europe.

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05.02.2001 / BSTaoife@tema.liu.se